In the end it wasn’t quite the autumn international series that we thought for the Cardiff Blues players involved, with some slipping out of favour in the Wales team while others made unexpected debuts and returns.
It was certainly not the October that the eight Cardiff Blues Women members of the Wales squad hoped for as their final 2020 Six Nations match of the season against Scotland was postponed and then cancelled due to coronavirus cases in the opposition squad.
The men started against France with Rhys Carre, Cory Hill and Josh Adams all in the starting XV, while Dillon Lewis and Seb Davies were among the replacements, but by the time the Autumn Nations Cup game against England came around a month later, only Carre and Adams remained, and the loosehead had dropped to the bench.
Lewis had been struck down by a rib injury and dropped down the pecking order, Carre was on the wrong end of some downright baffling refereeing decisions against Ireland, while the dexterity of Hill and Davies was somewhat surprisingly overlooked by Wayne Pivac and Stephen Jones despite their belief in broadening the attacking game plan.
Cardiff Blues involvement had not completely diminished though, as three more members of John Mulvihill’s squad were drafted in over the course of the international window.
James Botham and Shane Lewis-Hughes were both called up and given Wales debuts, against Georgia and Scotland, respectively. They each went on to retain spots in the starting XV the following week, and showed that they did not look out of place at the top level despite their relative youth and the quality of the opposition.
Meanhwile Lloyd Williams earned a recall to the Welsh setup when Rhys Webb got injured, his first involvement since October 2016, and went on to wear the number nine jersey for the first time in four years when he started against England.
The most concerning aspect of the autumn was Josh Navidi though, who continued to be sidelined by the concussion sustained in Cardiff Blues training back in September and is set to miss more action as he returns to club action this December.
Overall a tough autumn for some, but the start of an exciting journey for others and Cardiff Blues, with more international players meaning more money, and the improvement of those players in the long-term. Now we just need to start recruiting a competitive window side!